Governor’s Games Boxing Championships on tap this weekend in Lafayette _lowres

Advocate staff photo by LESLIE WESTBROOK -- Beau Williford, head coach and director of the Ragin' Cajun Boxing Club, helps Beau Richard strap on his boxing gloves before a sparring match Tuesday at the Ragin' Cajun Boxing Club in Lafayette. Richard will compete in the Governor's Games boxing event at the Wyndham Garden Lafayette.

The Governor’s Games are normally focused on Louisiana amateur sports enthusiasts, but this week’s Governor’s Games Boxing Championships aren’t limited to state fighters.

That’s a good thing for Beau Williford, director of the Ragin’ Cajun Boxing Club and the commissioner for the three-day event that kicks off Friday at the Wyndham Garden Lafayette.

“We had well over 250 fighters for the Louisiana Golden Gloves,” Williford said of the state event held last March in Lafayette. “We expect at least that many and maybe more this weekend with the out-of-state clubs coming in.”

Williford said several amateur teams from Texas, Mississippi and Arkansas will take part, as well as at least one team from Florida and North Carolina, and possibly an international squad.

“Roy Jones Sr. is bringing his team from Pensacola,” Williford said, referring to the father of the former world champion. “A team from Raleigh (North Carolina) is already here, and we heard from a team in the Bahamas that asked if they could come.”

Williford said he hasn’t heard back from the Bahamas group, but he has heard from most of Louisiana’s top boxing clubs and is anticipating more than 100 bouts over the weekend. The competition is open to any amateur fighter registered with USA Boxing, with male and female divisions as well as novice and masters’ competitions in all weight classes.

Fighters from age 8 to age 40-plus are expected.

Bouts begin at 6 p.m. Friday and continue at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $15 daily for adults and $5 for children 12 and under, or $30 for a three-day pass. A limited number of reserved tables will also be available at the door.

Registration and weigh-ins are from 8 a.m-noon Friday at the Wyndham on West Pinhook Road, and pairings will be determined by number of registrants in each classification.

“We should have the cream of the crop as far as amateur fighters in Louisiana,” Williford said. “The Governor’s Games have become one of the best shows anywhere in the state.”

The Governor’s Games are the signature events of the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, and the boxing championship is the final competition of a months-long series of amateur sporting events held across the state. More than 50 events were staged since February including basketball, volleyball, gymnastics, tennis, track and field, golf, baseball, softball, martial arts and weightlifting among others.

Rudy Macklin, the former LSU basketball standout, is director of the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and will be in attendance at this weekend’s boxing. He appointed Williford as state commissioner of the Governor’s Games boxing several years ago.

The Ragin’ Cajun Club is host of the event, and Williford said he’ll have several fighters to watch — even though his club’s most noted fighter won’t participate. Jesse Fletcher III, the reigning World Ringside 138-pound champion in the age 14-15 category and a four-time TITLE National Championship winner, is traveling to a family wedding this weekend.

Brothers Trevin and Bralin Collins, a recent graduate and current senior at Comeaux, respectively, are both entered in the novice welterweight (152-pound) class.

“They won’t match up unless both make the finals,” Williford said, “and if that happens, we’ve already told them they’re not fighting each other. These two guys can really fight.”

Williford said he’s anxious to see club members Blaize Carrier in the open lightweight (132-pound) class and Beau Richard in the novice light-welterweight (141-pound) class. He’s also looking forward to 21-year-old lightweight Brandon Arvie of Mamou continuing his improvement.

“He (Arvie) has all the talent in the world,” Williford said. “He just needs to build his confidence. He was beating a really good fighter from Roy Jones’ club a few weeks ago and didn’t finish very well. He’s got a chance to be really good.”

The finals in each age group, experience level and weight class are set for Sunday. Title belts will be awarded to winners of the championship bouts.